It is important for individuals to think theoretically in order to understand the factors that lead to the occurrence of events and their outcomes (Nosotro 4). It is also important for people to be aware of the current affairs of the world and the impacts they have on their lives, their societies, their states and the world at large. At the present moment, the world is facing a number of issues.
For instance, the United States of America is pulling out its troops from Iraq, the European Union is meeting to come up with a strategy that will solve the economic crisis in its member states, presidential candidates are trying to win the support of the US citizens, Palestine war prisoners were released by the Israeli government to save one Israeli soldier and Libya is trying to recover from a change in regime. These are just but a few of the current issues that the globe is facing. All these issues are as a result of politics.
It is politics that drives the manner in which a nation is run and the relationship that it will have with its citizens, neighbours and other states of the world. However, different individuals have different political ideologies. Thus different nations of the world are run by leaders who have different missions and visions and definitely, they have different methods of achieving these goals and objectives (Hoffman 31).
In addition, the larger majority of the community also have different political ideologies. It is due to this fact that scholars have developed various theories that explain these ideologies and the impacts they have on world politics. This essay shall therefore focus on the theories of realist, liberals and feminists. Through critical analysis, it shall expound on their differences and the impacts they have on world politics and international relations.
Realism is a political theory that bases its arguments on the notion that world politics is based on the self-interests of nations (Adler 19). Due to this fact, nations try to gain superiority or dominance over other states. Realists therefore believe that nations are in a race of proving which one amongst them all is more powerful over the others.
To achieve this, nations need to have a strong military to protect its boundaries and interests, a strong economy and a society that is loyal to the state (Burchill 41). According to Burchill (2000), in the process of struggling for power, the success of a nation will definitely result to failure of another. This is referred to as the Zero Sum-Game.
The elements of realism with regards to international relations can be traced back into ancient history. Sun Tzu (544-496 B.C), the Chinese General and the author of The Art of War and Thucydides (460-399 B.C), the great Greek Historians are believed to be the earliest realist in history (Cohen 412). Through their words and actions, they managed to impart this ideology into the minds of masses. However, in modern times, realism was exhibited through the words and actions of strong political figures.
Otto von Bismarck (1815-1898) is among the earliest rulers to apply the concept of realism in his regime. Through his realist beliefs and actions, he managed to unify Germany under the control of Prussia. However, the concept of realism was widely applied after the First World War. Many scholars state that it is through realism that the Second World War emerged (Sodaro 226).
The development of the League of Nations to protect the interest of the allies, the partnership of France, Britain and USA to form the allies and the struggle for Germany to control Eastern Europe clearly shows the application of the realism theory into practice. All of these nations were fighting for dominance and to protect their interests. As Cohen (2002) asserted, international politics, like any other form of politics, is a struggle for power (21).
Realism has two schools of thought; classical realism and neorealism (Kapuscinski 118). Classical realism is pessimistic about human nature. According to the believers of this school of thought, it is hard for a specific nation to trust other countries and their citizens. (Locke 31)
This is due to the notion that man always has a dark side and since politics is a ruthless and dangerous game, man will always strive to gain dominance over other. In the process, rivalry and enmity develop. Neorealists on the other hand still believe that the cause of conflict in international politics portrays the human urge for power.
However, according to them, the source of conflict in international relations is its anarchic system (Delaney 27). According to the theory of neorealism, the world is made up of many states that have self-rule. However, there is no law that governs independent states. This therefore results to a system of disorder since there is no common law or rule that different states can follow.
Therefore, to protect their own interest, these nations utilize the resources they have to the fullest. However, since there is no law that will govern the manner in which each state will utilize its resources, these states normally use any means possible to achieve their goals and objectives. This, will in most cases result into conflict of interests among different states (Voltaire 98).
Through realism, there is always struggle between nations while they strive to achieve their national interest. According to the words of one realist, states normally follow the rules of Charles Darwin in the process of achieving their goals and objectives (Drakulic 67).
With this respect, the nations that have the powers and capabilities to achieve their goals and objectives normally survive while those nations that are weak normally perish. It is just like the theory of struggle for the fittest. Thus, in the eyes of a realist, a nation is successful if its national interests strengthen and improve its military, political stability and national economy (Jean-Luis 15).
With regards to the dark view of politics, realists have little faith that the anarchy in world politics will come to an end. Morgenthau stated that the only way that the international system can be rectified is through the emergence of a unified global power that has the interest of all states and regulates their actions (Weinberg 261).
However, he went on further to state that having a global government is impossible thus each and every state will always be after its own interest. Realists thus believe that it is essential for states to have equal power. This can only be achieved if these states have a strong military and economic background.
Partnerships and alliances should thus be formed for those states that find it difficult to achieve stability on their own. This will ensure that there is equal distribution of power in all states and reduce the chances of domination by a specific state or region (Creatorix.com 3).this is because realist believe that peace can only be attained through power and might.
That is why realist presidents such as Ronal Reagan and George W. Bush advocated for a strong army that would not only protect the national interest of USA but also the security of the globe. It is only through might that world peace can be attained.
Liberalism is an approach that contends that individuals and the nations that they represent can come into a consensus on their matters of interest (Southhall 36). Liberalism also believes that it is possible for different states to have a common interest and work together to achieve their individual and collective goals and objectives.
However, for these states to achieve this, they have to form alliances and international bodies and follow international law. Unlike the realist, liberals do not believe the notion that for a nation to achieve its interests, another nation should suffer the consequences.
Instead, they believe in non-zero sum game (Smith 191). According to the liberal theory, it is possible for states to have a win-win situation. Liberals also have the beliefs that man has bonds that not only ties them to the boundaries of the states, religion or culture but also binds them on the grounds of human nature. Therefore, men from different states, religions or cultures can have a mutual agreement on various issues.
Just like realism, liberalism is a political ideology that has been with us for years. However, much of the modern liberal theories seem to have developed from realism theories. However, there are major differences in the ideologies and beliefs of these two theories. According to the liberal theory, justice is a basic human right that has to be respected by all.
This concept can be traced to the era of Mesopotamia (2500 B.C.) where individuals developed the sense of universalism in a bid to find peace and justice. During the 14th century, Pierre Dubois advocated for all Christian around the world to unite and form a global league of peace. Just like realism, liberalism also played an important role after the end of the First World War.
Through the actions of President Woodrow, the League of Nations was formed to check the actions of every state in the world in a bid to stop the occurrence of another world war. It is however, during the period of the cold war that the ideology of liberalism was put into practice. During this era, man had developed nuclear power that could end the entire human civilization (Hoffman 67).
Through their idealistic beliefs, the United States of America and the Soviet Union had embarked on an arms race. This led to the development of lethal weapons of mass destruction. During this era, scholars and humanitarians preached liberalism. These individuals stressed the importance of values such as peace and justice in international politics. As a result, many nations embraced the concept of democracy (Hoffman 91).
This led to the decline of socialism and dictatorship. Many nations strived to work together to achieve their goals, objectives and world peace. This led to the development of the United Nations, European Union, African Union and currently the International Criminal Court. Realism could not explain the growth of such international unions and the development of the international law (Dunne 15).
Similarly, liberalism has two schools of thought; classical liberalism and neoliberalism (Dunne 31). Classical liberalism is believed to have developed from realism. Just like classical realism, classical liberalism lays its basis on human nature.
However, unlike in classical realism where the theory was pessimistic about human nature, classical realism is optimistic. It follows the arguments presented by individuals such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau. According to his argument, Rousseau stated that it is easier for societies to live in peace and harmony and achieve much through collaboration rather than individual competition.
In the current world, this has been exhibited by states forming partnerships that aim at achieving global peace, growth and development. Neoliberalism on the other hand developed during the 1970s and 1980s (Hoffman 112). This ideology has the same belief as neo realism that increased competition among states might lead to the development of conflicts and in some intense cases, war.
However, neoliberalists differ from neorealists about the anarchical state of world. Neoliberalists state that nations have high degree of interdependence from activities such as trade and commerce, social, cultural and other ties (Delaney 28). These ties increase their interdependence and embrace the formation and development of international bodies and laws that govern and regulate international activities. In the long run, liberals argue that the world is not as anarchical as realists claim.
From the arguments that have been presented so far, it is evident that liberals do not believe that manifesting, acquiring and preserving power has always been the main goal of international relation. Liberals believe that foreign policy among states can be achieved through cooperation and altruism (Jean-Luis 18). However, it should be noted that liberals are not against war or military power. Liberals believe that it is essential for a state to protect its boundaries, subjects and interests. In the process, a nation can use military force.
Other instances where liberals advocate for the use of power and coercion include instances where world peace is at stake through genocides, holocausts and terrorist attacks. These wars are should thus waged by the United Nations and other international bodies. For instance, President Woodrow joined the allies in the Second World War as a means of ending the war and bringing peace to the world (Wibben 27).
The dream of liberals is for humanity to develop a peaceful, effective and efficient international system. Although the realist put much emphasis on state power and sovereignty, liberals believe that for the world to be peaceful and experience economic, social and political growth, states must rely on the United Nations and International Governmental Organizations as forum to embrace international cooperation.
However, classical liberals believe that states can still maintain their sovereignty and participate in international cooperation. On the other hand, neoliberals believe that it is essential for states to give up some of their independence to international bodies for maximum cooperation to be experienced.
Neoliberals are thus encouraged by the current trends that the world is currently experiencing. The European Union for instance has taken over the economic power and control of its member states. The body is thus in a position to implement policies and measures that its member states have to adhere to. This has brought about a lot of growth and development in the region despite the harsh economic conditions that the world is currently experiencing.
Feminism constitutes a number of movements that aim at defending equal opportunities for the women in the various fields of politics, social rights and other aspects in the society (Wibben 25). Approaches of feminism to international relations became rampant in the late twentieth century and these approaches demanded that the experiences that women had were to be ignored from studies to do with international relations theory.
Feminists who study international relations argued that gender issues apply in international relations. This was based on influence of the spouses of diplomats in the promotion of sex trafficking. Feminist international relations approaches in the past used to be part of the major debate that ensued between the post-positivists and their counterparts, the positivists (Burchill 51).
Four major varieties of feminism exist. They include marxist, liberal, radical and socialist (Burchill 54). Other categories may include black feminism and functionalist feminism. Liberal feminism occurs when prejudgment revolves around ignorance of individuals. Education is said to be the key to the fight against discrimination brought about by ignorance.
Marxist feminism is a form of a class relationship that is the major cause of women’s oppression and discrimination. This occurs when men transfer the exploitative relationships at work to their wives at home hence become a burden to them.
Tickner (2005) identified and used a number of contemporary feminist situations to the issue of international relations in her book, Gender in international relations: Feminist Perspective on Achieving Global security (15). This perception suggested viable criticism to the Marxist, liberal and realist theories. She also points out the gender differences that came about during the construction of state identities and the roles that the citizens played in the state.
Feminists have always criticized the manner in which men perceive international relations. For instance, men normally interpret peace as the absence of war. This is what feminist refer to as negative peace. For them, positive peace should include equality, social justice and economic balance (The Economist 4).
Thus, women have embarked on the process of bringing peace and equality into the world through politics and humanitarian movements. This does not mean that feminists desire a nation that comprises of women, but it means that women desire their states to have feminism consciousness.
International relations is a key aspect that determines world peace, growth and development. To achieve these goals, it is essential for individuals to think theoretically. This will not only enable then to understand current affairs but it will enable them to understand political trends, actions and outcomes.
To achieve this, we need to understand the main political theories that are present in the world. This includes realism, liberalism and feminism. Through realism, states normally strive to power and dominance over other states. Liberalism on the other hand relies more on international cooperation among states while feminism advocate for equal representation of women and other oppressed individuals in the society.
Despite the differences that are present in these theories, it is evident that they all have one objective; to achieve economic, social and political stability of the globe. Thus, with the help of these theories, individuals are capable of determining the most efficient means to solve the global crisis that we are currently experiencing.
Adler, Selig. “The Isolationist Impulse: It`s Twentieth Century Reaction.” Insight 4.1 (2002): 15-22. Print
Burchill, Sam. Theories of International Relations. New York: Palgrave Publishers Ltd, 2000. Print
Cohen, Jean. Civil Society and Political Theory. Cambridge, Mass: The MIT press, 2002. Print.
Creatorix.com. “Political Ideology in the Contemporary World.” Creatorix.com. Creatorix, 8 March 2011. Web. 1 February 2012
Delaney, Tim. “The March of Unreason: Science, Democracy, and the New Fundamentalism.” European Journal of Politics 52.3 (2005): 22-31. Print
Drakulic, Slavenka. A Letter from the United States: The Critical Theory Approach. New York: W. W. Norton, 1992. Print.
Dunne, Thomas. International Relations Theories: Discipline and Diversity. London: Sage, 2010. Print
Hoffman, David. The Dead Hand: The Untold Story of the Cold War Arms Race and Its Dangerous Legacy. Washington: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2010. Print
Jean-Luis, Renee. “Political, Social and Economic Stability.” The African Journal 12.3 (1991): 10-22. Print
Kapuscinski, Ryszard. Imperium. California: University of California Press, 2007. Print.
Locke, John. Second Treatise of Government. Maryland :Davidson, 1982. Print
Nosotro, Rit. “Locke and Voltaire-A Tale of Two Exiles.” Hyperhistory.net. Hyperhistory Online, 8 March 2011. Web. 1February 2012
Smith,Simon. International Theory: Positivism and Beyond. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996. Print
Sodaro, Michael. Comparative Politics: A Global Introduction. New York: McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 2007. Print.
Southhall, Ashley. “The Early Word: Double Dip”. New York Times. New York Times, 7 October 2011. Web. 8 October 2011
The Economist. “Politics this Week”. The Economist. The Economist Online, 8th October 2011. Web. 8 October 2011
Tickner, Allan. Gender in International Relations: Feminist Perspective on Achieving Global security. Columbia: Columbia University Press, 2005. Print
Voltaire, Francois. Candide or the Optimism. Riverside :Penguin Books, 1950. Print.
Weinberg, Albert. “Manifest Destiny: A Study of Nationalist Expansionism in American
History.” Journal of Humanity 3.5 (2011): 254-270. Print
Wibben, Angela. “Feminist International Relations: Old Debates and New Directions.” Brown Journal of World Affairs 5.2 (2010): 21-30. Print